France Addresses Key Issues
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 19, 2010 | 2:27 P.M. EST
NASCAR CEO Brian France spoke with the media Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
As the Chase for the Sprint Cup heads to its season finale with the closest point race between first and second place, France said the sanctioning body is still considering changes to the championship format for the 2011 season.
“We will look at it,” said France. What I like is, what I said earlier, a winner take all, if you will; and watching someone not just have to run well, but have to beat some other people. That is feeling to us like that's exactly what we want. It's working out that way this year.
“We are in year seven of the Chase. Right almost every sports league, almost everyone, including the NCAA Tournament last year, is looking around at what they need to do to change their formats a little or a lot, depending on who they are, to make sure that their playoffs or their championship runs are what they want them to be. And we are no different.”
Despite the close championship race, NASCAR is experiencing issues in lower television ratings as well as attendance issues. However France believes the ebb and flow of all professional sports at some point impacts any league including NASCAR.
“We have a strong fan base, and my sense of it is, people's attention span, it is shorter; we know that,” France said. “And that this sport will definitely...if we keep the racing as good as it's been the last half of the season and beyond, and we do our jobs right, I'm not worried about a thing on the popularity of this sport.”
As for television, despite the major drop of television ratings since the Chase began, France remains positive that the broadcasting future of NASCAR remains positive and that increases will take place in the coming years.
“ESPN is our partner and they have been an enormously good partner, and they actually have a younger demo on ESPN network than does their sister network, ABC,” he said. “But obviously, so you know, we are going to look with everybody at ESPN to make sure that we have the right times, the right promotion, the right everything, that puts the sport in the best possible position to have had the biggest audience.”
The quality of the telecasts remains solid in France’s eyes.
“By the way, I think the broadcast has been as good as I've seen in a long time,” he said. “I think the energy level and the calling of the action, the on air talent, I think is top notch right now on their network, and they have been working at that for a few years to get all of the things just right, and I think they have.”
France also commented on the controversial policy change headed for the Nationwide Series that will reportedly limit Sprint Cup regulars from competing for the division’s title. Although an official announcement is still weeks away, France made it clear it’s a subject NASCAR has taken seriously.
“You will be hearing about that in January,” said France. “And the idea for us is, you know, we want to see the Nationwide Series have its own identity, very similar to what college football does for the NFL. That's a great analogy for us. And what we don't want to see is Sunday and Saturday homogenized, just completely homogenized. So we want to see Cup involvement, absolutely, fans want to see that, buy tickets, we get it.
“We also want to make sure the Nationwide Series is, you know, helping us find stars that stay there for a little while, earn their stripes and move up...It's delicate of how to do that, but we have been at this for a number of months studying the idea of making Saturday have a better...it's more so its own identity.